While a lot of the cyclocross world was sliding around in some crazy mud at Jingle Cross in Iowa, there was a whole other contingency that showed up to sunny Broken Arrow, Oklahoma for the Ruts-n-Guts race. My experience in this town has been the 5 or so years I’ve raced Tulsa Tough. So, my expectations of the Tulsa cycling community were high. Like Tulsa Tough, Ruts-n-Guts did not disappoint. The host housing was amazing, the race promoters were stoked, the courses were a mix of everything you’d want, and the fans… I love you OK cycling fans!!
These plans were somewhat last minute for my teammates and I. Yannick and I decided to drive out from Boulder with all the bikes and meet Erica, who was flying into Tulsa. Ten hours in the car can be miserable if you don’t have the right company or the weather doesn’t cooperate. Luckily, all was smooth and my legs felt pretty darn well on Friday. Yes, for once, I was there to pre-ride the course on Friday!
The first lap in ‘cross is a mystery to me. If I don’t start hard enough, I get caught behind crashes and bobbles that eventually let the front of the race smoothly ride away. If I start too hard, I’m the one making mistakes because I’m going too hard for my skill level. I had the experience of both of these situations this past weekend. Saturday, I wasn’t aggressive enough in the beginning and ended up upside down/inside out in the sand pit. This same sand pit I rode smoothly every other lap in the race. But, when you enter the sand pit with 15 other women in front of you, someone will fall and then there’s no getting around! On Sunday, I went hard in the first lap and then had an epic mud slide…into course tape/stake… which landed up with all kinds of tangled mess and a dropped chain. It wasn’t an easy one to recover from.
Things I’ve learned:
- How to pin arm numbers.
- How to take a beer hand-up, which also included a $5 bill!
- How to ride ruts, finally.
- How to ride a decent sand pit. Not perfect but better then some others.
- How to not use my front brake so much.
- To use my big chain ring. Hilarious I know, but, I don’t think I used it at all for my first 5-6 races.
- How to judge my tire pressure by feel. My teammates will be happy when I stop asking them.
Things I need to learn:
- How to carry speed into 180 degree turns better.
- How to not make crashing so dang epic. I end up backwards, upside down, bike between my legs, and not quick to pop back up.
- How to dismount in the middle of shit hitting the fan. I am pretty damn sure this has something to do with #2 as well. I really need to plan out a dismount with plenty of warning.
- How to remount faster. That double hop thing has got to stop.
- How to master the energy output on that first lap. Go hard, go smart.
- How to get a warm-up lap in with more speed so I am better at the beginning of the race. I always feel like I’m so much smoother in the last 2-3 laps.
So, you can see, it’s a process. But, after 13 races but nationally and locally, I’ve come a long way. After a bit of a frustrating weekend, personally, in Broken Arrow, OK, I can say that I’m still laughing at myself and having fun. The fans cheering and giving beer hand-ups helped me remember to smile this past weekend. Thank you! I almost started taking myself seriously. Tulsa, Oklahoma: YOU ARE AN AWESOME PLACE TO RACE A BIKE!!!
A big thank you to our host family- Jess, Brooks, Tayton, Ellis, Finley, and Ruby. What a cool family! Congratulations to both of my teammates, Yannick and Erica, for a double podium in OK. You two have got the right momentum leading up to Nationals in January!